24 September 2020 14:38
The iconic French singer and actor, Juliette Gréco, has died at the age of 93. Gréco famously played a huge role in shaping the cultural landscape of Paris following the war. Gréco became the poster girl and voice of postwar Paris, she was a friend of Left Bank intellectual giants such as Jean-Paul Sartre and had relationships with Hollywood studio boss Darryl F Zanuck and the legendary jazz musician Miles Davis. Gréco was always a radical figure who was arrested by the Gestapo when she was just 16 after her older sister and her mother—a member of the French Resistance—were sent to a concentration camp. Gréco was born on February 7th, 1927, in the southern town of Montpellier, but after her parents separated she spent the majority of her childhood being brought up by her grandparents near Bordeaux.
During the second world war, both her parents were active in the resistance, and because of her age, she was thankfully spared deportation to Germany. This horrible experience she had as a child made her an ally of the political left, which she tried to embody throughout her life. Following the war, when Saint-Germain-des-Prés became one of the global creative hotspots, it wasn't long before she became the most sought after model in the whole of the French capital with esteemed photographers fighting over getting to shoot with her. Gréco also had success as a cabaret artist which led to a number of performances at the legendary Paris Olympia in 1954. She had already started her long film career, which did take her to Los Angeles but she never did quite make it as a Hollywood starlet.
Juliette Gréco has passed away at the age of 93, her family has confirmed. The French actress and singer, who worked for over half a century, died in her home, according to Agence France-Presse. "Juliette Gréco died this Wednesday surrounded by her family in the house she loved so much," her family said in a statement per The Guardian. "Her life was one like no other." "She was still making French songs shine at the age of 89" the statement added, explaining her career then ended following a stroke. Gréco sang as a cabaret artist in Paris in the 1950s, before then starring in French TV series Belphegor in 1965, which became a hit across western Europe. Paying his respects to Juliette Gréco on Twitter, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote, "She was elegance and freedom. Juliette Gréco joins [Jacques] Brel, [Leo] Ferré, [Georges] Brassens, [Charles] Aznavour … in the Pantheon of French music. Elle était l'élégance et la liberté. Juliette Gréco a rejoint Brel, Ferré, Brassens, Aznavour et tous ceux qu'elle interpréta au panthéon de la chanson française. Son visage et sa voix continueront à accompagner nos vies. La « muse de Saint-Germain-des-Prés » est immortelle. pic.twitter.com/NLAwtZfzNE — Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) September 23, 2020 He continued: "Her face and her voice will continue to accompany our lives. The 'muse of Saint-Germain-des-Pres' [a Parisian suburb] is immortal." Alexandre Baud, who produced Gréco's last tour, said: "It is a very great woman who has left us. Juliette had been tired for some time but she had kept her extremely sharp mind, as shown by her very open interview with Telerama." Advertisement In the aforementioned interview, Gréco spoke of her life without her career. "I miss it terribly," she told the publication. "My reason for living is to sing! To sing is everything, there is the body, the instinct, the head." Legendary French singer Juliette Greco has died aged 93 after a career spanning over half a century, her family told AFP. "Juliette Greco died yesterday surrounded by her family in the house she loved so much. Her life was one like no other," her family said in a statement. "She was still making French songs shine at the age of 89" when her career was ended by a stroke, it added. "I miss it terribly. My reason for living is to sing! To sing is everything, there is the body, the instinct, the head," she told the Telerama magazine in an interview in July. She also lost her only daughter, Laurence-Marie, in 2016, the same year as the stroke. "It is a very great woman who has left us," Alexandre Baud, the producer of her final tour in 2015, told AFP. "Juliette had been tired for some time, but she had kept her extremely sharp mind, as shown by her very open interview with Telerama," he added. President Emmanuel Macron offered a generous tribute to Greco, a leading cultural figure in radical chic post-war Paris, praising her "elegance" and saying that in death she took her place in the "Pantheon of French chanson". "Juliette Greco joins (Jacques) Brel, (Léo) Ferré, (Georges) Brassens, (Charles) Aznavour... in the pantheon of French chanson. her face and her voice will continue to accompany our lives. The 'muse of Saint-Germain-des-Pres' (a well-heeled Parisian suburb) is immortal," Macron tweeted. Usually clad in stylish but sombre black, Greco had debuted as a young dancer at the Paris ballet school when the Nazis invaded France. She was arrested and her older sister and her mother – a member of the French Resistance – were both sent to a concentration camp but survived and were liberated. The lover of both Hollywood studio boss Darryl F Zanuck and jazz legend Miles Davis, Greco interpreted texts by the likes of Sartre, poets Jacques Prévert and Jean Cocteau, playwright Bertolt Brecht and composers such as Léo Ferré, Guy Béart, Georges Brassens and Serge Gainsbourg. Her best-loved hits Jolie Mome (cute kid) by Ferré and Gainsbourg's La Javanaise were written for her. She compared singing to sex, suggesting that "an audience is like a lover. You have to start slowly, softly, with a thousand caresses, tears and doubts... then give everything so that they love you". (AFP)